*1:1 Each speaker is not explicitly identified in the Hebrew text as shown in this translation, but it is usually clear from the context and gender of the words used who is speaking. Additionally this book is poetry, and therefore translation needs to be more fluid than with prose.
†1:2 Literally, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” The repetition of the word “kiss” forms a superlative, just as “song of songs” really means “the best song.” In addition the poem begins in the third person but then immediately switches to the second person. Such changes are smoothed out for less confusing reading.
‡1:2 Literally, “better.”
§1:3 Literally, “name.”
*1:4 In love poetry of the time “king” was also a term of endearment.
†1:4 The verb moves to the first person plural, which could mean the change of speaker (some versions believe this line is spoke by the “friends” of the woman). However, it is taken here to be an inclusive form, indicating the woman and the man together.
‡1:4 Referring back to the young women of verse 3.
§1:5 Her dark complexion was an issue for these women of Jerusalem, as it still is in some societies. Accordingly the woman tells them not to look down on her (verse 6).
*1:6 In other words, the woman could not look after herself. Note also that in literature of the time, “vineyard” was often used as a fertility metaphor.
†1:7 “Looking for you”: implied.
‡1:7 The idea seems to be that the woman may have to hide herself during her search if she does not know where her love will be. Some have suggested that wearing a veil in such circumstances may have been like prostitutes who wished to keep their identity secret. Others suggest that the woman thinks other men may be attracted to her and she wishes to avoid that. Yet others suggest emending the text from “wear a veil” to “wander.”
§1:9 To be compared to a horse is not a modern-day complement, but this serves as a reminder that this is a very different culture than today. In addition chariots were pulled by stallions, so there may be some additional meaning here.
*1:10 It seems the ornaments the woman is wearing reminds the man of the decorations worn by the chariot horses.
†1:13 A perfume placed in a small bag and worn on a string around the neck under clothes.
‡1:14 Engedi means “spring of the young goat” and in the context may have a double meaning, together with the “vineyard” symbolism already mentioned.